Galatians and the Gospel: The Gospel is from Jesus not Man
Articles - Articles of Edification

In thinking about what to write this week, it occurred to me that there are six Sundays left in the year, counting today.  So, my mind was drawn to six chapter books of the N.T. (Galatians, Ephesians, and 1 Timothy).  Then I decided to center our thought in the closing days of 2014 on Galatians and its theme of the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ.

As Paul opened his letter to the Galatians with a greeting, it was more than a hello.  Even his greeting contains a summary of the gospel- “The Lord Jesus Christ…gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father” (1:3-4).  And, in the very first sentence of his greeting, he lays out his first point, that his work as an apostle, as one sent to preach the gospel, did not originate with men or “through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father” (1:1).

Immediately after his brief greeting, Paul expressed his amazement that so quickly the Galatians had deserted the Lord, who had called them to be Christians by His grace, in order to follow a “different gospel”.  He clarifies his use of “different gospel”, by indicating that there is only one true and genuine gospel, so teachings differing from the gospel are not actually another gospel, but perversions of the one gospel.  The apostle contends that no alterations can be made to the message that he and his traveling companions had preached to them.  Neither they- nor an angel from heaven- nor any man could preach a gospel to the Galatians which was contrary to the message they had received without being accursed (damned to hell).  Paul said that the motivation for preaching a different message would be to seek the favor of men and to please them and, if he did so, he would not be bondservant of Christ (1:6-10).

Then Paul laid out evidence to support his claim that the gospel which he preach was not according to men and that he did not receive it from men, but through the revelation of Jesus Christ (1:11-12):

The first proof that the gospel he preached was from Jesus Himself was his conversion.  He had persecuted the church beyond measure and tried to destroy it.  He was an “up and coming” star in the Jewish religion because of his great zeal.  However, God had plans for Paul even from his birth.  By His grace, He revealed Jesus to him on the road to Damascus, and commissioned him to preach Jesus, especially to the Gentiles.  The only way to logically explain Paul’s radical and immediate conversion was that he did have interaction with Jesus.  And the fact that he did have interaction with Jesus supports his claim that he indeed received his gospel from Him (1:13-16a).

The second proof that his gospel originated from Jesus was that he did not have early interaction with the other apostles.  If he did not have this interaction with them then he did not receive his gospel from them- that is from the teaching of men.  Following his conversion, Paul did not go to Jerusalem to consult with the other apostles, but he left Damascus and went to Arabia and then returned back to Damascus.   Then three years later he went to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and he also met James, the Lord’s brother.  He was there only 15 days.  Paul left Jerusalem and went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia.  At this point, several years down the road from his conversion and the beginning of his preaching, he had been in Judea such a brief time that the churches in the region would not be able to recognize him if they saw him.  They had only heard that Paul was preaching the faith he once tried to destroy and they glorified God because of the news of his conversion and work (1:16b-23).  Paul could not have learned the gospel he taught from men, from the apostles- the opportunity for that to happen just wasn’t there!  Therefore, he must have received his message by direct revelation from Jesus, just as he claimed.

May the evidence that Paul laid out to the Galatians strengthen our faith that the gospel which he preached, both orally and in written form in his letters, is the revelation of Jesus Christ and is not a message from the mind of men.  May we never desert the Lord by moving away from His gospel to a perversion of it taught by men.  And, may we ourselves overcome the temptation to change the gospel in order to please men and to win their favor- for we realize that we would no longer be the Lord’s bondservant and we would be eternally condemned in hell for doing so. - Alan